Catching a charter flight from Manchester,
the family eases through security
but I am detained – there are traces
of explosive in my backpack: poems
on the hard drive? The scanner is at fault.
At Nikos Kazantzakis Heraklion –
the only airport named for a writer –
one of our cases arrives broken
on the single baggage carousel
and one of the gent’s toilets has backed up
but ‘Zorba’s Dance’ is playing somewhere,
the sea beyond the runways could be almost
‘wine-dark’ and the oven heat warms old bones.
Our hotel room overlooks a valley
charmed by Cretan sun in early June, washed
in El Greco shades and citrus colours,
with the usual eclectic small holdings
among the scrub – olives, vines, tomatoes
and bananas; hens and cock scratching;
three nanny goats clanking; two black dogs caged;
a stand of bamboo. On our balcony
with our granddaughter we play ‘I spy’
– but we cannot see the goose that honks
periodically in the bamboo
and sets the watch dogs barking.
There are activities throughout the day
round the pool for children of all ages.
It is water polo time and chaps
from England, Poland, Germany play
boisterously but amicably.
The French study their screens, a quartet
of middle aged Israeli men is aloof,
two British Asian families remain
circumspect. We came last time in early May –
the Great Patriotic Holiday
enjoyed by affluent ethnic Russians.
Our granddaughter swims endlessly like a shrimp
in the cosmopolitan waters.
At Heraklion the security
is seasonal, part-timers attired
in G4S finery complete
with white lanyards so there is role play –
queues are long and scrutiny relaxed.
At Manchester, in the EU passport queue
we shuffle along, without music,
with passengers from Islamabad
to the ID scanner – and chuckle,
thinking of all the closet racists
who would swallow their tongues in such a queue.
At the scanner, a witty, local lass
in a hijab helps us. O brave new world
that has such! ARRIVALS is threatening
with armed police, loud with distant honking.
A car has been parked in the wrong place.
We have flown from attic comedy to low
farce, goosed in the process.